Property Ownership

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A friend of mine called about a week ago, needing help with selling one of his residential properties. I told him, I would make an effort to contact some of my friends and/or associates who might be interested in investing in the property.

During this exercise of trying to find him a buyer, I spoke to a few people and the response I got from all these different people (not related by the way) this was quite an interesting exercise. Although they all agree that owning a piece of property is no doubt a good investment, all things considered, they were also quite reluctant to giving the possible investment deserving thought.

The main reasons they all gave, amongst others, was that they feel property is too risky and you’d be tied up to a long term loan with a bank. Their reasons have some truth in them. But these reasons are outweighed by the potential satisfactory returns that property investors enjoy.

When we were looking to invest in our first property a few years ago, we knew that it could be a risky endeavour should you not due diligence but looking back, it was one of the best decisions that was taken. Of course there are a few hiccups along the way, such as late rental payments, filling up vacancies and of course interest rates.

According to data from ABSA, The first three months of 2016 saw growth in the average value of middle-segment homes in the South African residential property market remaining relatively stable at a nominal 5.7% year-on-year.

According to ABSA, the average nominal value of homes in each of the middle-segment categories was as follows in March 2016:

  • Small homes (80m²-140m²): R937,000
  • Medium-sized homes (141m²-220 m²): R1,255,000
  • Large homes (221m²-400m²): R1,987,000

Over the last 20 years, the average house price has gone up by more than R1 million, meaning quite a handsome return over a period it should take you to pay off your bond.

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Image: ABSA

Houses in all three segments have recorded strong growth over the period, with the large cluster showing particularly pleasing growth.

What this shows is that property investment deserves more thought. Risk can be managed, by for one, doing thorough research on possible property investment.

Property investment also requires a long term view.

Which makes the data that came from The FNB Estate Agent Survey is worrying. According to the survey, the average age of the first time property buyer in SA has increased over the past several years to 44 years old, as of 2016. This means most us will reach retirement with a mortgage on our first property. That makes me uncomfortable. Because paying off a mortgage as quickly as possible reaps so many benefits -I stopped counting at a hundred! (Fell asleep actually).

I believe that the younger generation should always be looking for opportunities to invest in property as an alternative investment that will form part of your investment portfolio.

Managing a property investment requires some discipline and savvy financial planning, once you become an owner of property. What I would advise are a few simple but not easy habits for anyone looking to build wealth in the long term;

  1. Pay lump sums off your mortgage: Instead of pocketing your bonus or tax returns, consider putting it directly against the mortgage. Every cent over the outstanding balance eats into your principal amount and reduces the interest payable over the term of the mortgage.
  2. Reduce overspending: Unplanned purchases and impulse spending is our greatest vices! We all do it. It is a habit that needs to be closely monitored and controlled. Tie that thing down, yes you fam!

One of the most common overspending  areas relate to goods and services offered when we are pressed for time (sometimes referred to as impulse purchases), like most of us rush off to work and buying food along the way without checking what we have in the kitchen.

  1. Cast out your debt: Debt destroys your financial momentum. Now you might want to consider paying off those credit cards. Forget extra repayments on your mortgage until you have carved out your high interest debts, such your car loan. Once that is done, you will be amazed at the extra cash you have that may be used to reduce your mortgage.
  2. Sell it instead of dumping it: With Gumtree, OLX and Alibaba being the norm, when thinking about getting rid of some old furniture, rather sell it and make some cash that you can use to reduce your mortgage.
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